Let’s order a round of respect: for both patients and physicians

To complement Aaron Lacy’s post on treating colleagues with respect, I’d like to expand that concept to include treating patients with respect too. That means if a patient says she’s freezing, and adding insult to injury, has been sick as well,  adjust the thermostat a little, please, even if you as the doctor isn’t cold. When a stray cat came to our door in the dead of winter, my husband made a warm little spot for him in the garage. If it’s good enough for a cat, it should be good enough for person.

Mr. Lacy brought up many good points, one of which is to not embarrass a colleague, especially in front of others. That courtesy should be extended to a patient as well. If I say that I eat 1200 calories a day, but my 20 extra pounds of pudge won’t budge, don’t look at me as if I just said I was from Mars. I’m not, nor did I eat a Mars® candy bar, but I know how to count, and I eat about 1,200 calories a day. I was willing to wear a video camera to prove my actions, but when he told me that he had friends who went to Emory, my alma mater, I didn’t ask him to prove it. I took him at his word. If it was good enough for me to believe him, it should have been good enough for him to believe me.

Too many cooks spoil the medical office.  There have been times when I am instructed to leave a message with one person, who is going to relay that information to another person. However, that second person never gets the message, causing a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings all the way around. After several phone messages, all was fine, but talk about the game, “telephone,” (where messages get misunderstood).

Doctors’ offices state that if you don’t pay within a certain period of time, you’ll be charged interest. What about when I’ve had to wait over 60 days for a refund? Do I get to charge interest? I’d be interested to know.

As Mr. Lacy pointed out, if you make a mistake, own up to it. Fingers will eventually point to you anyway. He also implored colleagues not to be mean. That should be part of everyone’s core. I mean it. We shouldn’t have to contend with rude attitudes.

How else can a doctor show respect to a patient? Maybe by knocking on the door. I mean, we’re not going to turn you away, but that 2-second knock humanizes us a little, so, knock knock Doc.

Of course, respect works both ways. I call my doctors Drs. So-and-so, but I don’t mind if they call me by my first name, but some people do.  I know medicine can be a calling, and you should be aware that calling a patient by a preferred name goes hand in hand with your profession. For me, just don’t say, “Hey Dude, “(although Dudette Barnett sounds OK).  Some new patient forms ask what name you’d like to be called, but that wasn’t always the case. Doctors would call my 85-year-old mom by her first name. She rolled with it, but I’d suggest starting with Mr. or Mrs., to avoid any misses.

Patients usually follow doctors’ orders, so let’s order a round of respect, all the way around.

R. Lynn Barnett is the author of What Patients Want: Anecdotes and Advice and My Mother has Alzheimer’s and My Dog Has Tapeworms:  A Caregiver’s Tale. She can be reached on Twtter @rlynnbarnett1.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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